The earliest references to building blocks come at the end of the 17th century when mentioned by the English philosopher and educator John Locke (1632-1704). In his work, “Some Thoughts On Education,” he cites a number of educational toys, among them, alphabet blocks. In the late 1790’s, English educational theorists Maria Edgeworth and Richard Lovell Edgeworth wrote of the potential of toys for learning. It was in this setting, with the emergence of the child-centered culture in Europe, that Friedrich Froebel developed the Kindergarten movement in Germany. His lasting contribution to education was a series of toys and activities he called the “Gifts” and “Occupations”.
Froebel described the gifts and occupations and the lessons they were meant to teach in his book, “The Education of Man” written in 1826;